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Suspension of Easy Rider bus “loop” inconveniences riders

Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 6:51 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 1, 2021 at 6:53 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Tiffany Williams is among countless people who take the bus to their daily jobs.

“I take it 5 days a week to work, not to mention anywhere else, unless I catch a ride,” she told us while waiting for the early afternoon bus Friday.

At nighttime, have you been taking the loop?

“I catch the 10:00 bus five nights a week,” she says.

It’s that late bus that’s the issue. By Mid-October, the “loop” run that’s served portions of Parkersburg and Vienna will be suspended, at least until the end of this year. The Mid-Ohio Valley Transit Authority says it’s had fewer riders since the start of the pandemic.

The route started in 2015 as an option for shoppers and nighttime workers. The shutdowns of spring, 2020 and stay-at-home workers diminished riders greatly. The board was told Tuesday that on recent runs, there were as few as five riders.

A bigger problem is the shortage of drivers. Current full and part-time drivers have seen the number of hours they work expand, to cover the shortages.

“We’ve put out ads and we got an account with (indeed.com),” Transit system manager Michael Kesterson told the board this week. “We’ve had interviews that come in and go home and discuss it with their wife, and decide they don’t want to do it.”

Kesterson said some people who were scheduled for job interviews didn’t show up for them. Others have lacked the licenses and requirements needed to operate buses.

But the route’s suspension will also be, at the very least, an inconvienence for those who depend on the bus to get to work.

“After I work my eight-hour shift, I’ll have to walk two miles home,” Tiffany says, “which is going to add 30 minutes to my daily commute.”

Another consideration for the suspension was businesses that still are closing earlier, although Grand Central Mall, located along the loop route, returned to its pre-pandemic hours this past summer.

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